Business Branding

China? Well, Kamikoto Touts Their Headquarters Are in Tokyo, Japan, But This is Why That Is Dumb/Funny

What city do you think of when somebody says Japan? I expect you to think Tokyo, and if that is also your answer, good job because the people at the Kamikoto headquarters are thinking the same thing. They are betting on it.

If I were to ask somebody in China, “where do you think the Harley Davidson headquarters is located?” The answer might be New York or Los Angeles because those are the biggest and most well-known American cities. It would not be a surprise to hear that, but they would be wrong because the Harley Davidson headquarters are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That bet is only partially paying off because Kamikoto is known as a Chinese product online (from their About Us with Yanjiang  being hidden/buried in their copy, Amazon questions page to the #1 Amazon review with 1,196 “people found this helpful,” it is hard to dispute otherwise).

That limited type of thinking is also oblivious about the knife industry in Japan because Seki City in Japan is the knife capital, not Tokyo (they only hype Tokyo because that is the city most people know).

Where is Kamikoto headquartered?

Kamikoto heavily markets its headquarters to be in Tokyo, Japan. A city in Japan not popularly known for producing knives (just like New York is not known for salsa). The region most well know for bladesmithing is the Gifu prefecture, and the most infamous of them all is Seki-city, Japan.

The knife capital in Japan is Seki-City

Photo Description: a map of Japan with the Gifu prefecture highlighted. On the map you can see the surrounding cities of Kanazawa (2hr40m), Tokyo (2hr10m), and Kyoto (1hr10m).
I really do want to visit this area, and my homie Seigo is from there, this is his hood. Image courtesy of Visit Gifu.

If you think all things in Japan only happen in Tokyo, then I am sure you believe me when I tell you that French fries are from Paris, France.

It could be Vegas, at the Paris hotel (I’m not sure).
Photo Description: a map breakdown of the Gifu prefecture which is sectioned off into North, Central, South West, and South East. Seki City is located in Central Gifu.
In the US, we have regions regarded as coal country, like the Appalachian Basin. The same goes for Japan and its knife industry. Image Courtesy of Visit Gifu.

“The Seki-City, Gifu-Prefecture is a small town located in the middle of Japan, and is famous worldwide for its production of fine knives like Solingen in Germany.”

I have included a map of Japan for you to take a gander at to highlight where the Niigata and Gifu prefectures are compared to Tokyo. I mean, if you are going to go to the extent that Kamikoto has, why not say Seki or Niigata to reinforce the illusion of not being “Made in China (Yanjiang).”

Kamikoto is not the only one, and their brethren Mitusmoto Sakari are also playing copycat

This company is hilarious because they are way more transparent than Kamikoto, but in their attempt to be “honest,” they sound foolish:

Kamikoto is not the only Chinese made knife claiming Japan as their headquarters (these people have no shame and they epitomize “fake it, till you make it”).

From stealing IP (Chinese hackers steal trillions via CBS News) to copycat schemes.
  • Mitsumoto Sakari claims Kanagawa, Japan as their headquarters.
  • Mitsumoto Sakari touts “During the development of the company, MITSUMOTO SAKARI realised that high prices for kitchen knives were not conducive to promoting the traditional Japanese knife-making craft and selling quality Japanese kitchen knives to more people who love cooking. In the context of economic globalisation, China has a more complete industrial chain and lower labour costs.
  • The Mitsumoto Sakari timeline of 2018: MITSUMOTO SAKARI China factory was established. 2019: ALIEXPRESS and MITSUMOTO SAKARI have partnered to open an MITSUMOTO SAKARI official store online to sell MITSUMOTO SAKARI’s quality kitchenware worldwide 2020: MITSUMOTO SAKARI kitchenware has been sold in over 200 countries around the world.

This is what these Chinese individuals think branding is, deceit

Integrity and honesty are not what you can expect from these “made in China” brands, and they are the ones that give “made in China” a bad name (what a shame). China and most Chinese people are amazing, but it only takes a few to ruin it for the rest, and I doubt their social credit score is a -100.

On the flip side, this is where some of the biggest Japanese knife producers are actually headquartered

Unless you are the KAI Group which generates 43.9 billion yen/$382 million dollars (March 2020, consolidated basis) and has 2,583 employees (April 2020, consolidated basis), you probably are not headquartered in super pricey Tokyo, Japan. Also, if you want to know their exact location, that information is publicly available, 3-9-5 Iwamoto-Cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-8586, Japan, FYI. I can not say the same about Kamikoto, who says “Tokyo, Japan” as their company headquarters, sure, bro.

A line of salsas from New York City makes as much sense as Kamikoto saying their headquarters is in Tokyo.

  • Gihei, Sanjo, Niigata, Japan
  • Glestain, Niigata, Japan
  • Global, Tsubame, Japan
  • Jikko, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
  • Kikuichi, Nara (Kansai region), Japan
  • Kyocera, Kyoto, Japan
  • Masamoto, Tokyo (Azumabashi, Sumida-ku), Japan
  • Misono, Seki City, Japan
  • Mizuno (Tanrenjo), Seki City, Japan
  • Sakai Takayuki, Sakai City, Osaka, Japan
  • Shun (KAI), Tokyo, Japan (established in Seki City, Japan)
  • Tojiro, Tsubame, Niigata, Japan
  • This list does not contain the hundreds of craftsmen throughout Seki City.
Photo Description: Niigata (is highlighted in yellow and it is on the West Coast), Japan as it relates in relation to Tokyo, Japan.
Yup, not Tokyo, and if you want to see Niigata for yourself, plan a trip with Hokuriku and Tokyo.

There is a reason why you do not see Taco Bell claiming that they are headquartered in Mexico City (this is not how you build a brand)

There is no long-term value in faking it because that is not how you build a successful brand, on deceit. Also, many of us are cool with having knives produced in Yanjiang, China, a city with 1,000 years of history (or a Dorito Loco tacos started by a dude named Glen Bell in LA). Except, this brand has become too reliant on culturally appropriating Japanese culture to market themselves.

Taco Bell does not claim to be Mexican food (more like “Mexican-inspired”), and they do not hide that they are headquartered in Irvine, Orange County, California.

Taco Bell is owned by Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands

I do not see Kamikoto being truthful to their “customers (aka sucka’s)” because that is not who they are. If you want to see a brand that exemplifies how you do it right, check out this badass Chinese knife brand, Cangshan (they are gangsta on brand building).

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